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Ballston Tech Startup Works to Fight Forgetting

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated 1 p.m.)In a groundbreaking 1885 paper, Hermann Ebbinghaus coined the idea of a learning curve. But there was a second part of the paper that tends to get forgotten: a “forgetting curve” of exponential loss of information over time.

That’s where Blank Slate Technologies, a startup based out of Ballston, comes in. Blank Slate Technologies offers learning programs aimed at improving recall weeks, months, or even years after the initial training.

The program assesses the difficulty of various lessons and the time since training to target refreshers only at times where that information is likely to have hit the “forgetting curve.”

Alex Hasslacher, director of sales at Blank Slate Technologies, said the founding team knew each other at Boston University and this was a common interest. The company was founded a little over one year ago.

“It’s an old idea with new technology,” said Hasslacher.

The company’s app has trivia questions on flashcards with multiple answers. An algorithm relies on user feedback to identify which information people are most likely to forget, and when, and then the program asks questions surrounding those subjects.

Professionals from Blank Slate Technologies assist the companies or organizations using the software to design the content for the program and supply data analytics to provide information on training.

Any audio, video or image can be worked into the system, meaning the program isn’t limited by language barriers. Hasslacher said the technology is flexible; he sees it being useful in corporate or education cultures, in everything from elementary school to MBA-level programs.

Hasslacher said the company works on a monthly subscription, usually for at least one year. Costs vary on the size of the organization using the program.

Photo via Blank Slate Technologies

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Rosslyn ‘Microbusiness’ Sees Both Rewards and Challenges With Small Size

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

All That Yazz, a relatively new, Rosslyn-based soap business has managed to capture the sights, sounds and, most of all, smells of workspaces in Arlington.

An offering of the small business is the “Executive Soap,” named for the contractors, consultants and government workers who make Arlington, Arlington.

“It smells like power. It smells like corporate power. Which is ironic because it is a homemade soap,” said Yasmine Bandali-Alvarado, owner of All That Yazz.

It captures that whiff of air in the wake of a coworker passing your desk to take care of something, she said.

But the one-woman, two-year-old operation has few things in common with the high-rise offices around it.

With microbusinesses come micro budgets. Plus, artists like her have challenges in running a business because they have to put a damper on their creative side in favor of thinking strategy, profit and the bottom line, she said. 

“It’s good to be creative, but then, how do you sell it; how do you advertise it; how do you know what people are looking for?” she said. “Without that business side, it’s just a piece of art.”

All that Yazz offers 18 soaps, most of which are vegan, but some are made with goat and even camel milk.

“It’s a very luxurious soap — the camel’s milk is a notch above the goat’s milk,” Bandali-Alvarado said.

All the soaps are environmentally friendly; they’re free of palm oil, which has come under fire from conservationists because its production can negatively impact local ecosystems, she said.

Farmers burn harvested palm trees to plant new ones, creating smoke and contributing to global warming, Bandali-Alvarado said. Wildlife living in palm tree plantations is driven out, sometimes into the hands of poachers. Bandali-Alvarado was raised in Kenya, giving her an especially deep appreciation of the issue.

“This is really a big part of why I am so passionate about the soaps,” she said. “It’s a much deeper issue and it offers the consumer an alternative.”

Like many such businesses, All That Yazz relies on local festivals to reach customers. There are enough events in Arlington, but the organizers should focus more on the microbusiness vendors, she said.

Bandali-Alvarado’s friend Tineshia Willett, the owner of custom head wrap microbusiness, The Nicole Renee Collection, said she’s had similar experiences with festivals in the D.C. metro area.

“The majority of them are disorganized. To me, they just want the money (from the vendors),” said Willett, a Crystal City resident. “The person who is organizing it is late and it’s their cousin, their momma — the baby — running it.”

Even before they reach an event, there’s a problem, the women said. The owner has to first earn back the vendor fee and the cost of production before turning a profit, Bandali-Alvarado said.

Mary-Claire Burick, president of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) said a hallmark of the organization is its business engagement program, which connects businesses and helps with marketing even for small businesses like All That Yazz.

“Organizations like ours are critical, especially for small businesses,” Burick said. It offers some 200 events a year and access to its marketing channels.

“Networking is just key,” Bandali-Alvarado said. “You rely on referrals (because) usually the cost of advertising is too high.”

Photos of soap and Yasmine Bandali-Alvarado courtesy of All That Yazz

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Rosslyn Startup ‘Hungry’ Expanding, Looking for New Talent

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A little over two years after it launched, Rosslyn-based startup Hungry still feels like a small company.

These days, founder Eman Pahlevani is as likely to answer the company’s main phone line as anyone else in the 30-person office. If everyone else is busy, Pahlevani says sometimes he’ll even get up and go run a delivery.

But the small feeling belies some remarkable successes over the last two years. Last summer, the company announced plans to expand into Philadelphia. Riding high on that growth, Pahlevani said the company is planning on expanding into five new cities in 2019.

“The first two will be Atlanta and Boston,” said Pahlevani. “The last three are still in the works, but these are your big east coast locations.”

The core concept of Hungry is simple: office lunches can be a hassle for everyone involved. Office managers have a limited set of dining choices and face repetition, while restaurants struggle with orders they’re not built to manage.

“Nobody in this industry was looking at how to solve the buyer’s needs,” said Pahlevani. “These people are buying food daily or weekly for their teams, but today they’re being serviced by restaurants not optimized to handle catering. If I go to Panera, I can get those sandwiches once or twice a month, but not every day.”

With Hungry, office managers pay no more than what they would for the average office meal. Pahlevani estimated lunches range from $9 to $12 per person. But the manager has access to a wide variety of chefs hand-picked by Hungry so a client could order lunch every day for a month and never get the same food twice.

“There’s just so much variety,” said Pahlevani. “We solve those problems with a distributed network of chefs.”

It’s an idea that seems to have caught on. Pahlevani said the company saw 500 percent growth in 2018. Its fleet of delivery drivers has grown to between 70-75 employees.

“We’ve been hiring in Arlington weekly now,” said Pahlevani.

The infrastructure of the company is built on a network of commercial chefs and delivery drivers. The chefs audition at the company’s headquarters and Pahlevani says Hungry doesn’t put anything on their menu that doesn’t pass the staff’s food test.

Once they are chosen, the chefs work out of commercial kitchens that Pahlevani said cropped up across urban areas, after legislation required food trucks to be tied to a commercial kitchen.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is how many talented chefs there are in any given region,” said Pahlevani. “I mean these are really good, authentic chefs, but most of them work in a restaurant and work on someone else’s menu in the back of a kitchen. It’s a lot of hidden talent. So we let chefs cook their own menu, set their own prices, and we highlight them at every catering.”

Pahlevanis said most of the chefs start as part-time workers, but within a month go in full time. Some chefs make between $20,000 to $30,000 dollars per month.

But the other big component Pahlevani credits for Hungry’s success is delivery drivers — or ‘delivery captains’ as he calls them. Drivers can often struggle with getting into loading docks or finding the right rooms in office buildings, or when they do arrive they just drop off the bags of food.

“We train all of our deliverers to get inside loading docks, get clean, set up and clean up,” said Pahlevani. “You’re trying to optimize and train people to solve these people’s problems.”

Pahlevani says the company has seen so much demand recently that it’s still hiring new delivery drivers, just to keep pace.  The company is also hiring staff for sales and engineers or developers for the technology side of the company.

Photo via Facebook

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Ballston-Based Startup Aims to be Uber for Transporting Cars

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

So you’re on a winter trip down to sunny South Florida and you need to fly home ASAP, but you’re not sure how to get your car back home. You could use a car carrier service, but those can be costly and often have inflexible schedules.

Starting in March, Ballston-based startup ReloRides could give you another option.

The app connects owners looking to relocate their cars with drivers interested in getting paid for a one-way trip.

“Our platform enables people who need to relocate their vehicle to post the location, preferred dates, type of vehicle and price to pay,” said Jon Gallinger, COO for ReloRides. “We would connect that vehicle with a driver going in the same direction.”

Gallinger said there is a demand both for people looking to move their car from one point to another, but also a demand for people hoping to travel but don’t have cars. With ReloRides, the owner of the car would post an offer, something like “I have a Chevy  Nova and I am coming back from Florida and want to go to New Hampshire.” Gallinger says the owner would list the car, the dates, and a price.

“The owner of the car offers flat fee and the driver says yay or nay,” said Gallinger. “We take a fee off what the owner pays, and the rest goes to the driver. The driver pays tolls and gas. It makes it easy on the owner.”

Gallinger said the alternative, car carriers that haul five or six cars, can be inconvenient for a number of reasons. They’re expensive, they take time to fill up with cars going to the destination, and the drop off locations are inflexible. Gallinger says he believes ReloRides can offer the same type of service for a fraction of the cost.

“Car owners have coverage, they should have coverage for a secondary driver,” said Gallinger. “Our terms and conditions require that the driver have liability coverage for anything caused by the driver… We do run background checks on all the drivers and screen them ahead of time. We won’t present a bad driver to the owner.”

But despite its potential, the startup does face one major big challenge.

“Haven’t booked any trips yet,” said Gallinger. “We had an owner who wanted to go from Denver to San Diego, but we couldn’t find a driver for that person. We’ve had that happen a couple times. It doesn’t have the critical mass yet for that to take off, but we feel that’s out there.”

Gallinger said the company has had the platform up for a little over a year but has done no advertising. The big advertising push for ReloRides is likely to come after the company’s website is upgraded.

Currently, 150 owners and drivers are signed up for the program. Gallinger says the company hasn’t been taking new signups until the upgrade is finished.

“We hope to get that up and running by March,” said Gallinger. “[That’s] the start of snowbird season, where people down south want to move their cars north. We want to be ready to go for that, then start marketing more heavily.”

Image courtesy ReloRides

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Ballston’s Algernon Solutions Provides Niche Services to Behavioral Healthcare Providers

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

The founder of a small, Ballston-based healthcare startup says breaking things is his company’s key goal.

Algernon Solutions is a consulting firm working with behavioral healthcare providers to improve the use of their patient databases, thus enabling physicians and their support staff to provide a better standard of care.

In order to that, things have to be broken, said Jeff Cubeta, the company’s founder.

“We just go screw things up, break things and build them better,” he said. “There are lots of people in pain out there; there are people who are suffering despite all the best efforts and we can’t really reverse the tide.”

Cubeta and his chief engineer, Michael Schappacher, are both behavioral health practitioners, so creating a company focused on that field is fitting. They believe that means they understand their clientele and speak their same language, making problem solving easier.

He and Schappacher are the company’s two employees, Cubeta said, but in a sense there’s a third “employee,” named Algernon.

Algernon is not a who but a what; the firm refers to its Clinical Intelligence Platform (CIP) as Algernon.

“Algernon was our attempt to fix the most pressing problems we saw in our daily practice,” Cubeta said. “None of those problems stemmed from the actual treatment [of patients] but from the information and the workflows around it.”

Algernon can be thought of as a giant sponge, absorbing information from data sources such as Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems.

“We don’t build EHRs, we make them better,” said Cubeta, adding that there are already plenty of health records and data systems out there: some bad, some good.

The data is collected and routed to the appropriate sources, which isn’t necessarily the healthcare provider, but the people who support the healthcare providers’ practice, freeing up time for humans to actually focus on patients and not a computer screen.

Providing solutions to individual healthcare providers and hospitals is a large field, but providing solutions specifically to behavioral healthcare providers is a much smaller field, Cubeta said.

“We don’t have any direct competitors,” he said, adding that it took a “fair bit of looking,” to find a company offering similar services.

Algernon Solutions relocated from Fairfax County to Arlington because of its proximity and luxury office spaces.

“It’s the first time I’ve had an office with windows,” Cubeta said of the firm’s Wilson Boulevard location in the TechSpace co-working offices. “We’re fresh out of the box.” The company celebrated its first anniversary on Dec. 6.

There are quite a few reasons tech startups choose Arlington, including the variety of office space options, said Christina Winn, director of business investment for Arlington Economic Development.

Cubeta said Arlington’s proximity to its Washington, D.C.-based clients is another perk.

There are also a number of research agencies in Ballston, and the county more broadly, Winn said.

Many clients and potential clients incorrectly assume the name “Algernon Solutions” is taken from a fictional book about a pharmaceutical company researching treatments for the mentally disabled, Cubeta said. “Flowers for Algernon,” by Daniels Keyes, is controversial but acclaimed, and required reading in many public secondary schools.

“They kept saying, ‘the flowers’ and we were like, ‘what’s the flowers?'” Cubeta said. “They said, ‘you should go read it because everyone in the world is going to think you named this company after the book.’ It turns out they were right.”

The company’s namesake is actually Algernon Moncrieff, Cubeta’s mentor.

Cubeta and Schappacher say the goal is to one day have pharmaceutical companies as clients. For now, Cubeta said, the focus is on behavioral healthcare providers.

Photo of Algernon founder Jeff Cubeta and logo both via Algernon

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Call-Monitoring AI Startup Wins $5 Million Investment

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Have you ever called a helpline and heard a message saying the call may be recorded for training and quality purposes? ExecVision, a startup based in Rosslyn, might be at the other end of that call.

“We’re one of the systems that sits behind [a call], allowing managers to coach [service representatives],” said Jesse Williams, director of marketing at ExecVision.

Williams said ExecVision’s conversation intelligence software, a type of artificial intelligence, can signal and flag key moments in a call to help improve performance and sales. ExecVision can also identify recurring problems with calls that can be used to review and improve performance.

ExecVision’s tech can be applied to either sales calls or customer support calls. Williams said any company that uses phone calls heavily in relation to their product could be a good fit for ExecVision.

The AI has processed over 8 million calls since it was founded in 2015, but a new funding bump aims to expand those operations considerably.

The company recently secured $5.4 million in funding from Edison Partners, an investment firm in New Jersey. Williams said funding is a significant increase over the $2.5 million the company had raised up to that point.

“We’re excited to join the portfolio,” said Williams. “The majority of this investment is targeted at scaling up our operations and marketing strategy.”

Over the last year, ExecVision has undergone several changes to their program to improve administrative functionality, from a new transcription engine to a metrics tab. Most recently, the company created a new manager dashboard, allowing sales executives to track the logistics of coaching for their team. According to the press release:

“Sales executives can track the amount of coaching their managers are providing to their team, how effective that coaching is, how their coaching activities are distributed across the team, the time spent coaching, and the impact of coaching activities on their team’s performance over time.”

ExecVision was founded by David Stillman and Steve Richard and shares an office with their earlier startup, Vorsight, an appointment scheduling firm.

Williams said the company has a staff of around 35 employees, with plans to expand to 50 employees by the end of the year.

Photos of ExecVision software and co-founder Steve Richard courtesy ExecVision

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Crystal City Startup Acquires Holographic Football Training Program

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A Crystal City-based startup’s new acquisition will start to move the company toward offering hologram technology.

ByteCubed, a startup ARLnow first profiled in 2015, launched a new subsidiary, ByteCubed Labs, LLC, in November. The new subsidiary’s first offering will be “Pre-Game Prep,” technology from Maryland-based developer Mixed River that uses holograms for sports training.

The technology is currently being used by the Baltimore Ravens, who use the technology to simulate the opposing team on the field and react to real-time data, according to a release. Microsoft’s “HoloLens” glasses allows users to play-back recent plays and simulations.

“The acquisition of Pre-Game Prep and the launch of ByteCubed Labs allows us to expand our leadership in complex data analysis and advanced engineering to a new market of professional and college football teams,” ByteCubed CEO Ahmad Ishaq said in a statement.

Troy Jones Jr., who had helped oversee the product at Mixed River prior to acquisition by ByteCubed, was also hired as vice president of business development and operations at ByteCubed Labs.

“Pre-Game Prep” will now be offered through ByteCubed Labs, although the working relationship with the Baltimore Ravens will continue. The company’s specific plans for the holographic technology haven’t been announced yet, but the Washington Business Journal reported that security planning for events was one of the potential uses cited for the tech as it shifts from sports to government use.

ByteCubed also recently acquired InterKn, a data analytics and machine learning platform, and CHIEF, a branding and marketing agency.

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Teacher Feedback Company Wins ‘Startup Arlington’ Competition

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

EdConnective isn’t an Arlington startup, but starting early next year, it will be.

The Richmond-based company was chosen from 64 applicants as the winner of this year’s “Startup Arlington” competition. That means the firm will earn a temporary stay in the county, as well as some exclusive mentoring.

EdConnective’s mission is to provide virtual coaching and customized feedback for teachers. The startup launched in 2015 and has since worked in more than 30 schools throughout Virginia and surrounding states. More than 1,400 coaching sessions have been held with 70 coaches.

“EdConnective is thrilled to have been chosen as the winner of the Startup Arlington competition,” said Erik Skantze, Chief Operating Officer of EdConnective, in a press release. “Having a base of operations in Arlington will provide an enormous opportunity for us to grow our client base and to engage with investors. We look forward to an exciting and productive four months and beyond.”

According to the EdConnective website, participating teachers record a clip of their classroom instruction and share it with a coach, who shares feedback via Skype. These sessions are held twice a week for four to six weeks.

Pricing for the service ranges from $99 per session to $130 per session, depending on the package selected.

According to Arlington Economic Development, EdConnective will receive four months of rent-free lodging at Residence Inn Rosslyn and incubator space in Rosslyn at Spaces, a coworking space located in The Artisphere. The company staff will also receive transportation passes and exclusive mentoring.

The company is scheduled to start its Arlington operations next month.

Image via Startup Arlington

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Arlington Startup Aims to Make Painting Personal

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Normally, when someone wants to paint their business or a room in their house, they go to a contractor, who in turns hires another subcontractor, and so on. But Harrison Edwards wanted to do things a little differently.

Edwards, the founder of My Painter, LLC, says the Arlington-based startup is intent on being a one-stop shop for painting needs.

“We are employee based,” said Edwards. “There’s no subcontractors. We’re the painters. We’re the employees.”

Edwards said being an employee-based, rather than subcontractor based, painting company has allowed the company to form close relationships with its clients. Often for subcontractors, Edwards said clients have experienced problems trying to get ahold of which painters were working in which location.

Edwards said he spends very little on marketing, preferring to work based on referrals. Edwards said the company works at about 30 t0 40 percent profits from their jobs.

“People know our painters and they see us, it’s how we get referred,” said Edwards. “We get callbacks a lot of time, which means each client could theoretically be worth $1,000 per year, although a lot of time these are one-time jobs.”

The company is small, with 13 employees currently, but is looking to expand with another seven employees in 2019. My Painter is based out of Clarendon and takes jobs throughout the Washington, D.C. region, but does 90 percent of its work around Arlington.

Edwards founded the company in 2016 and said he was inspired by his father, who is a general contractor. Edwards wanted to work in specialized contracts, which meant learning a lot about painting and learning a lot about business.

“There was a lot of trial and error at first,” said Edwards.

Edwards said one of the lessons was that for painters, one of the most important parts of the job happens before the brush ever touches the wall. The preparation for a painting job is all about finding a way to respect and protect property as painting is going on around the space and making the painting work as unintrusive on the client’s home or office life as possible.

Edwards said My Painter also sets itself apart by offering to bring on color consultants before the job starts to help the client identify what colors would work best for the space.

In the aftermath of a job, Edwards says he helps clients coordinate with the painters on areas that may need work or touching up.

“It’s all about taking the headache, heartache and hassle out of painting,” said Edwards.

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Four Arlington Tech Companies Rank Among Top 500 Fastest Growing Firms

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Several Arlington startups have made an appearance on Deloitte’s top 500 fastest growing technology companies in 2018.

The annual “Fast 500” list looks at companies developing everything from entertainment to biotech nationwide. Overall, the survey found that the fastest growing industry sector was software, accounting for 64 percent of the total tech company growth over the last year. On the list were four Arlington software companies: Distil Networks, Mobile Posse, Fonteva, and Higher Logic.

The highest on the list was Distil Networks, ranked at number 131.

Distil Networks is a bot mitigation network that scans incoming data to filter out “bad bot” traffic hiding among the human and “good bot” information streams. The aim is to protect websites from data mining, spam and fraud.

“Founded in 2011, Distil was at the forefront of the bot problem before bots were part of everyday discourse, particularly surrounding social media and election meddling,” said Tiffany Olson Kleemann, CEO of Distil Networks. “We’re the experts at protecting websites, mobile apps, and APIs from automated attacks. We’re honored to be listed among so many esteemed and innovative companies solving some of today’s most challenging security and business problems.”

Over the last year, the company saw 872 percent growth. The company is located in Ballston at 4501 N. Fairfax Drive.

The next highest was Mobile Posse Inc. at number 237. Mobile Posse develops non-intrusive advertising on mobile devices, which delivers messages to locked screens and home screens. The company works with major North American phone carriers like Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

“Our experts at Mobile Posse are dedicated to creating new and innovative solutions to put the content people love at their fingertips,” said Jon Jackson, Founder and CEO of Mobile Posse, via email. “The ‘Fast 500’ is an award that punctuates our belief that we are moving into a new era of mobile content discovery, one where innovative solutions make it simple and easy for smartphone users to thrive and win.”

Jackson said one of the biggest events for the company over the last year was the launch of Firstly Mobile, a new platform that allows advertising content to be placed on the home screen and be accessible by swiping. The new product aimed at making advertising as “frictionless” as possible.

Jackson said soon after launch, Mobile Posse topped 7 million active daily users. Overall, Deloitte said the company saw 387 percent growth over the last year. The company is located in Ballston at 1010 N. Glebe Road.

At 286th on the list is Fonteva, a company that sets up membership software for associations and organizations.

“It is an honor to be recognized among so many talented companies,” said Jerry Huskins, Fonteva CEO and co-founder, in a press release. “Our past, present and future is a testament to the passion and engagement of our employees, customers, and partners. This combination is a force to be reckoned with and has resulted in a business with products that make us incredibly proud.”

Over the last year, Fonteva saw 291 percent growth. The company is located in Ballston at 4420 N. Fairfax Drive.

Higher Logic, a cloud-based engagement platform, sits at 348 on the list. The company offers organizations new ways to set up online communities and automate marketing.

The company, located in Rosslyn at 1919 N. Lynn Street, saw 228 percent growth over the last year.

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Arlington Startup Aims to Save Sharks with Artificial Intelligence

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations. 

(Updated at 4 p.m.) JJ Linser and Jack Linkous have a dream. They want to save sharks, and they want to do it with artificial intelligence.

They are the co-founders of L2Platforms, a startup in Arlington founded earlier this year, that aims to use an AI program to track boat movements and identify suspicious behavior.

“Visualize different places where this fishing is taking place as a huge map,” said Linser. “We want to figure out, based on previous illegal fishing activity, where that is currently happening. It’s all about tracking those patterns.”

Right now, Linkous says the only way to really catch illegal shark fishing is through random searches. Linkous says the aim of L2Platforms is to help direct those searches and make them a little less random.

“With limited resources, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack,” said Linser. “Right now, we’re trying to refine that.”

Using publically available data sources, L2Platforms should be able to model where illegal fishing takes places.

Linser said all of this data is fed into an AI that continually learns from these events and builds a map of suspicious activity. It’s a lot of data, there might be 100,000 suspicious events registered drawn from billions of points of data, but the AI will refine those events down to ones where it is 90 percent sure something illegal is occurring.

Because of the scale of the data being collected and processed, Linser and Linkous say they want to start small.

“We’re going to start with a place like the Galapagos islands,” said Linkous. “There’s a lot of sharks around there and a lot of nefarious fishing. We’ll start small with [tracking that] and grow from there.”

The development of the AI technology behind L2Platforms is largely drawn from Linser and Linkous’s experience working in the defense industry.

“We both have experience writing these kinds of models,” said Linkous. “I come from a defense background and you see these same types of stuff being funded at the Department of Defense. We want to use our knowledge in fields that get less love.”

The pair is currently working with Neil Hammerschlag, director of the Shark Research & Conservation Program (SRC) at The University of Miami.

“[Linser and Linkous] have been supporting my shark research with their impressive skill-set,” said Hammerschlag in an email. “It is an exciting collaboration. In addition, we have conceived an exciting collaborative research project that uses artificial intelligence to inform shark conservation efforts. We are currently seeking funding for this research project.”

Linser said L2Platforms is currently looking at working with conservation foundations for funding, then possibly looking at government grants starting in 2019. If they can secure funding, Linser says they hope to hire a small team of engineers over the next year.

Linser and Linkous, who met while walking their dogs, are both Arlington residents. They are working from home for now, but say they are currently looking for an office somewhere along a Metro corridor in Arlington, specifically because of the technical talent in the area.

“Arlington is where we have a core group of engineers that we know,” said Linser. “There are lots of talented software engineers in this area.”

Photo courtesy Neil Hammerschlag

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Convene Opens New Penthouse Meeting Spaces in Rosslyn

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Convene, a New York-based company offering flexible meeting and event spaces, has moved into a new space in Rosslyn.

The Rosslyn Convene location opened last Thursday (Nov. 1), occupying the top two floors of the CEB Tower at 1201 Wilson Boulevard.

Inside the new offices are full-service meetings and event spaces and amenity services for building tenants like research and advisory firm Gartner Inc., from whom Convene is subleasing the 35,000 square-foot space.

The company offers flexible workspaces, but the focus of the new office is on providing spaces for building tenants.

Convene will also manage a full-service culinary program, offering meals and pantry services to building tenants.

The new occupancy comes at a crucial time for Rosslyn, which is in the process of reducing its 29 percent office vacancy rate with new tenants like Nestle and Cerner.

“Opening Convene at 1201 Wilson is an exciting moment for Convene, for both tenants of CEB Tower and companies located the Rosslyn and D.C. area,” said Michael Burke, vice president of real estate and development at Convene, in a press release. “This space is a perfect example of how Convene’s approach to partnering with landlords benefits both property owners and tenants, and we are excited to expand our presence in the nation’s capital and serve the Rosslyn business community in more places and more ways.”

Convene is signed to the space for 14.5 years.

This is the second Washington, D.C. area location for Convene, which also operates a 15,000 square-foot location in Tyson’s Corner.

Photo via @RosslynVA

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Cutting-Edge Tech Company Two Six Labs Expands in Ballston

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

There’s some cool stuff going on inside Two Six Labs, a security technology company based in Ballston.

Two Six Labs works in research and development, primarily with the Department of Defense and other government agencies like DARPA. The company’s offices are a mix of segmented workspaces and mechanical workshops.

The company was founded in 2010 as tech company Invincea’s lab group. The group moved to Ballston in 2013 to be closer to the government clients. In early 2017 the group broke away from Invincea and took on its new name.

Chris Greamo, President and CEO of Two Six Labs, said the group is currently almost entirely supported by government contracts. Over the next few years, Greamo said one of his goals is to shift that balance to about 60 percent supported by government contracts and thirty percent by commercial ones, typically with a private sector variant of the technology developed for government use.

One recent example is Sigma, a low-cost radiation monitoring device. Greamo referenced the unexploded pipe bombs sent across the country last week and said his nightmare would be a radiological version of those bombs. Greamo said enough of them scattered across a wide area can provide a comprehensive net of coverage to catch those types of threats

“Imagine if every police car could monitor for those types of threats,” said Greamo.

DARPA’s contract with Two Six Labs also allows the company to retain the rights to their products, meaning Sigma will soon be commercially available to hospitals or large stadiums.

There was talk that DARPA might leave Ballston, but when the organization stayed Two Six Labs doubled down on their presence in the area. Greamo said the group had continued to grow and expand at its current location on the fourth floor of The Ellipse (4350 Fairfax Drive) but eventually reached a point where they were too large for the building.

Last Wednesday (Oct. 24) the company announced it would be moving to Ballston Metro Center at 901 N. Stuart Street, increasing from 19,000 to 29,798 square feet.

The group has also expanded across the country, with offices in Mount Laurel, San Antonio, Austin and Tacoma, but Ballston remains the central location for the company. Greamo also said the group is hoping to expand in the region and is looking for a new office in Northern Virginia because many employees are finding the commute untenable. Greamo said the group is looking at Reston in particular, likely avoiding Tysons because of the area’s reputation for heavy traffic.

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Startup Arlington Initiative Aims to Bring in New Businesses

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

While most Startup Monday articles profile a local business getting off the ground, today’s feature highlights Startup Arlington: an initiative aimed at bringing those businesses to Arlington.

Startup Arlington is an annual competition hosted by Arlington Economic Development that invites applications from promising startups that would be interested in moving to Arlington County. Applications for the latest round are available online and due Nov. 2.

The application consists of basic personal and company information, assessment of company growth/financial traction and the submission of a business plan and pitch deck.

Judges will review applications based on the overall strength of the team and the team’s knowledge of the market. The viability of the product, service, or technology will also be rated alongside an assessment of the company’s revenue and financing plans.

The winner of Startup Arlington will receive:

  • Three months of free living space in Rosslyn Residence Inn hotel
  • Three months of free office space in a coworking facility
  • Legal advice for the new business
  • Complimentary gym access
  • A stipend for public transportation fees

A full list of rules is available online, but in general applicants to Startup Arlington must be:

  • The CEO and/or founder (or co-founder) of an existing tech company
  • At least 21 years old at the time you complete your application
  • Able to live in Arlington County throughout the competition period

Winners of the competition must relocate to Arlington for at least four months. The startup also cannot be a business that is already located in Arlington or the Washington, D.C. region.

The previous year’s winner was GreenSight Agronomics, a system that converts drone imagery into actionable information.

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Ballston-Based Startup Adds a Physical Barrier to Cyber Attacks

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Ballston-based startup Fend is working to make infrastructure assets un-hackable.

“The goal is to protect infrastructure from cyber attacks,” said Fend’s founder Colin Dunn. “That’s everything from the electric supply to water systems. What worries me is hackers taking down our services.”

Dunn said he was frustrated looking at new technology being developed for infrastructure development that was turned down because of cybersecurity concerns.

Fend’s hardware is a device inserted into the data stream connecting industrial equipment (the asset) to cloud network stream. Information comes in from the asset, like a power plant or a truck, into one half of the device. That data is converted into a unidirectional beam of light fired into the second half of the device, which then sends the information into the network.

Because the information is physically transported in a one-way beam, there’s no opportunity to use the hackable network to access the asset. Dunn says Fend allows equipment operators to receive live updates on the assets without concern that the asset could be compromised.

According to Dunn, the technology adapts technology that has been used to defend nuclear power plans and the intelligence community but makes it easier to use and more price accessible for building owners or local governments.

Fend started in 2017 out of Smart City Works, a business accelerator in Reston, but has since moved to Techspace, a shared office space in Ballston. It was awarded a Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research award earlier this year for the technology’s potential to help protect solar farms. According to the Department of Energy, the technology could prevent large-scale economic disruption.

The funding from the Department of Energy has allowed Dunn to bring on another full-time employee, Sang Lee, who is now the chief engineer for Fend, and move forward into a pilot phase. The first batch of 10 units are currently under construction in Charlottesville and will be ready in four to five weeks.

Dunn said the program is scheduled for six weeks of pilot testing as Dunn starts to work on developing clients. Currently, Dunn says the company has one outside investor, but Fend will be looking for more investors and clients as the program looks beyond the pilot into full-scale implementation.

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